Monday, 15 November 2010

Mary Berry Gingerbread Traybake - Perfect for Christmas or Bonfire Night!

So I made this gingerbread tray bake a couple of weeks ago for bonfire night and it was a huge success! It will be great for Christmas too, it smells incredible when baking and fills the house with a warming Christmas aroma!
It's also so easy to make and serves big crowds. It can be kept in a tin for up to 2 weeks and tastes better with age! I just added some crystallised chopped ginger on top but if it's for Christmas you could add some silver balls for example.

The recipe is from Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book - 
Ingredients -
275g golden syrup
275g black treacle
225g light muscovado sugar
225g soft margarine
450g self-raising flour
2tsp mixed spice
2tsp ground ginger
4 eggs, beaten
4 tbsp milk
For the icing
225g icing sugar
about 2 tablespoons water

Pre-heat the oven to 160c. Grease and base line a 12 x 9 in (30 x 23 cm) roasting tin with greased greaseproof paper.
Measure the syrup, treacle, sugar and margarine into a large pan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour and spices. Add the lightly beaten eggs and milk and beat well until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 45-50mins or until well risen and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.
For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the water a little at a time and mix until smooth. Spoon over the cake and add decorations, leave to set. Cut into pieces and serve!

- Mary's secrets of success - Heat the syrup and other ingredients through very gently. If they are too hot when the flour is stirred in, it could go lumpy. If it does, you'll have to rub it through a sieve.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding a.k.a heaven in a bowl.

I'm gutted that this picture looks so rubbish, I was in such a hyped excitement and couldn't wait to eat it!! It tastes absolutely delicious and takes about 5minutes to prepare and 8 minutes to cook in the microwave. It's a chocolate self-saucing pudding and honestly, you HAVE to make this if you're a gooey chocolate lover! Surprisingly it's pretty low in fat, for it to taste this good I can't believe it doesn't have any cream or more butter in it!
It's from the Delicious Magazine and is so perfect for guests - one of those dishes that seems like you've been in the kitchen slaving over it but really it's ready within 15minutes!
This recipe serves 6 but be careful with the dish you use, mine wasn't big enough and as a result the microwave was covered in gooey chocolatey sauce! So next time I'll definitely use a bigger, deeper dish to keep all the sauce in.
Ingredients -
60g butter
225g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
180ml milk
2tsp vanilla extract
175g soft brown sugar

Melt the butter in the microwave in a deep dish for a few seconds.
Then sift in the flour, sugar and 25g of the cocoa powder, add the milk and vanilla extract and mix well. Sprinkle soft brown sugar and the remaining 35g cocoa powder over the top and pour in 300ml boiling water - do not stir at this point!!
Cook in the microwave on high (800w) for 8 minutes. 
Allow to stand for 5minutes before serving with cream/ice cream - try to resist eating it all while serving!

Simple Grilled Chicken, Jamie's Sweet Potato Mash and Asparagus

Some of my favourite dinners are the healthiest and simplest, perfect for mid-week like grilled chicken or fish with some vegetables. I adore sweet potatoes and saw Jamie's mash (on his 30minute meals again) which seemed like a good way to zap it up a little. This is more like an idea than a recipe to be honest -
So for the chicken I just grilled it on the 'Baby George', or if you're lucky enough to have nice summery weather, bbq it! Then just steam some veggies, I love asparagus and spinach.
But the sweet potatoes are the really special bit -
It depends on how many you're serving or how hungry you are as to how many you use. But I just quartered and peeled (although you don't have to peel it for added fibre) and put in a microwavable bowl. Add a quarter of a lemon to the bowl to steam in with it if you like. Cover with clingfilm and cook on full power for about 9 minutes - obviously more depending on the quantities. Push a fork in when cooked to see if they are soft enough to mash, if not cook for a bit longer. Then mash it up and drizzle in some garlic oil while the potatoes are still hot, then you can add whatever you like depending on your meal! Sometimes coriander or chilli (like Jamie does). I just simply added some peas and served with lots of black pepper!

Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

Well these cupcakes were a bit of a failure... I mean they tasted delicious but didn't turn out as I'd hoped. I was trying to make them all halloweeny look like pumpkins with bright orange icing and then decorate them, but I used soo much food colouring and it just wouldn't go orange enough! So I gave up and left them in this peachy colour. 
But here's the recipe - It's from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook that I got last Christmas but I adore anything made from there! These cupcakes are so good for birthdays or any occasion in fact - I tend to look for any excuse to make these! I'll probably post the chocolate version at some point.
You have to be careful with the quantities though, below is their standard recipe but I always have to make 1 1/2 batches for 12 cupcakes because there is no way enough! I don't know if I'm doing something wrong or if they have but I struggle to even half fill each case with the quantities provided.
So try it with the standard recipe but then if you can't fill each case 2/3 full then quickly whip up another 1/2 batch, it doesn't take long.  This makes 12 in standard size cupcake cases (not the small fairy cake cases) and taste just as good a few days later stored in a tin!
Ingredients - 
For the cakes:
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temp
120ml milk (it says whole but I use skimmed to lower the fat)
1 egg
1/4tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170c or Gas 3.
Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter into a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Then gradually pour half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
Then whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk in a separate bowl and then pour into the flour mix and continue beating until smooth. - Do not overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20-25mins until the light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
The cakes are cooked when a skewer is inserted into the centre and comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before cooling completely on a wire rack.
When cold, ice with vanilla frosting -
Ingredients -
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter at room temperature
25ml whole milk
A couple of drops of vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mix a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been added turn the mixer to a high speed. Add any food colouring.
Keep beating until light and fluffy (at least 5mins). The longer the frosting is beaten, the lighter and fluffier it becomes.
Same recipe, different decorations: